40UNDER 40

Ajay Bulusu Helps NextBillion.ai Find Its Way

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Ajay Bulusu, 

Co-founder, NextBillion.ai
age: 34
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For NextBillion.ai co-founder Ajay Bulusu, who started up amid the pandemic, the Fortune India 40 Under 40 selection is nothing less than a dream. “It inspires us to do better,” says Bulusu.
Bulusu and the other co-founder, Gaurav Bubna—both ex-Grab employees who were tasked with developing mapping solutions for South East Asia’s biggest ride-hailing and delivery firm—have built NextBillion.ai as a location technology start-up which helps businesses devise their own maps. It builds location tools and APIs that enable companies tackle complex location problems. For instance, for an entity like a food delivery or ride-hailing firm, the solution will facilitate faster deliveries and accurate ETAs (expected time of arrival). “We hope to provide software building blocks. Today, if a business needs a location-centric application, we provide it building blocks,” says Bubna. The company leverages AI and machine learning. NextBillion.ai offers pay-as-you-go, subscription-based and customised pricing.
The millennial co-founders bagged their first $7 million cheque from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Falcon Edge Capital. The bigger challenge was gaining trust of prospective clients amid a pandemic that locked down geographies and made physical interactions rare. Besides, mapping is not new. Established companies, like Google and Esri, have been doing it for years. “We are trying to disrupt an established business. But the way we think about the problem is fundamentally different,” says Bulusu. The start-up works with open street maps but can also integrate with third-party data platforms like TomTom and Foursquare.
With the advent of 5G, IoT and AR/VR as well as primacy of drones and autonomous vehicles, use cases will expand. The co-founders are not wary of new competition as mapping is a technically difficult vertical and requires deep understanding. Bubna claims customer base has grown as much as four times in six months. Founders claim revenues have jumped three to four times in past six months.